News & Insights

POSTED Wednesday 20-10-21

Challenges of recruiting at management level post-Covid: why you should invest!

At Aspen, we’ve found more and more that clients are struggling to recruit at management level, be it sparse replies to online job adverts, a lower quality of candidate applications, or trouble finding and retaining someone who’s a good fit for the company. This is in part due to the difficulties of the market itself; fewer resources mean that companies often post untargeted ads into the void of the internet, with the result of trickling numbers of applicants. Even after weeks of posting, some positions sometimes only get one or two people applying. With such a small pool to choose from, it’s far less likely that the right candidate has been selected, causing problems further down the line with retention and quality of work.


This problem – along with so many other aspects of employment – has been compounded by Covid. Although it was true that before the pandemic, middle management was a sector with fewer candidates actively searching anyway, this applies even more strongly at a time where companies are busy again and job security is more highly valued by employees. At an executive level, the culture has always been more mobile. Candidates, being higher up, feel more confident searching for new roles, and unlike managers their time is not taken up managing a team of twenty or more people. (Anecdotally, if I’m helping a manager find a new position, I find that they often have to call me at 5 after their shift because they are too busy otherwise). Furthermore, the new work-from-home norm has resulted in more comfort and flexibility and fewer opportunities to explore outwith the company; as such, fewer candidates are actively searching for new management roles. Lastly, there is more of an appetite at management level – especially in certain sectors, such as construction – for a quick-fix or emergency solution, as a manager is often already desperately needed well before the recruitment process begins. Unfortunately this can lead to a high turnover and, in the long-term, exacerbate the problem of managerial recruitment.


Still, despite these difficulties, employers are less likely to see the value in investing in a more thorough recruitment strategy for middle management than at other higher levels, such as senior management or executive roles. But the reality is that middle management is absolutely key to the success of a business; a manager may have a team of twenty or more people and deal with over forty inquiries a day. Recruiting a dedicated manager who will have longevity is an invaluable asset to any business, which is why investing in the recruitment process is worthwhile. This is true now more than ever, as more challenges and obstacles have arisen as a result of Covid.


So what exactly would a company get from this investment? Firstly, we could dedicate time into searching for a wider pool of recruits, and this includes the passive market of managers who aren’t actively job-hunting. I often find that when I contact managers for new roles, they are hesitant at first because they aren’t looking, but then become interested when I describe the new position to them. This means that even if a company does decide to recruit internally after all, they can be assured that the market has been tested and they are getting the best candidate. Furthermore, we can request feedback from potential candidates (who may feel more comfortable negotiating through a third party) concerning salaries, work flexibility, benefits, etc. We can also do further research into competition to see what they are offering and provide those insights. Companies can then recruit accordingly; with better insights and opportunities for negotiation, a bigger pool of candidates will apply.


Understandably, there is a wariness around paying for a service that employers don’t see the value in, such as managerial recruitment. But from my own experience I’ve seen more and more companies struggle with it, and this applies to all sectors. Investing in recruitment is investing in your company’s future, choosing the right recruitment partner to invest with is another challenge but it’s important to get it right. Of course, you don’t have to work with Aspen to get recruitment support, but in your search for a partner here are a couple of things to consider:

Your recruitment partner will represent your organisation in the public eye and personally with candidates they speak to: are you comfortable with this recruiter representing you and your organisation?

Quick turnaround agency recruitment companies impose monthly income targets on their recruiters; individuals must fill a specific number of jobs each month or they may lose theirs! This pressurised environment has resulted in some bad behaviours, we have all heard one or two recruitment horror stories.

And finally, assurance. What happens if the appointment doesn’t work out in the first few months? Will the recruiter support you and replace the candidate or will there be more costs involved? Recruiting should be a short-term activity with long term benefits; specifically at Aspen, we guarantee to appoint an excellent candidate. Our guarantee means if we complete interviews without a successful appointment or the individual leaves after a short term, we will re-run the entire campaign without further professional fees. If you entrust the recruiter to find the right person, the time and effort it takes to find this individual shouldn’t be an issue.


More than anything, it’s best to be aware of the challenges in managerial recruitment right now and look for solutions. In the past it may not have been as worthwhile to invest in it, but times and circumstances are changing so rapidly that companies will need to be more active if they want to be successful in recruiting at this level. The good news is that there is a passive market out there that are, when approached, enthusiastic about applying for new positions; it’s just a case of reaching out to them.